U21 footballers march into All-Ireland final after stunning performance against Kerry

Saturday evening at Cusack Park in Ennis at 5.45pm was a fantastic place to be for a Galway football supporter.

Gerry Fahy's side had just beaten a highly-rated Kerry outfit by 2-14 to 2-10 to advance to the All Ireland final. The margin of victory could have been even greater for the Galway players, if they had been a bit more clinical at stages in the first half.

Watching the three Galway youngsters who had travelled with me chatting with the Galway players on the field after the game - asking them for their gloves,socks or whatever else was going - was a lovely sight. And to their credit the Galway players were exceptionally gracious, pleasant and decent with their time.

As we were finally being ushered off the field by the groundsman a full 30 minutes after the game had ended - Vinny Jennings, a very loyal Galway GAA supporter and Balllinasloe native, said: "You have to enjoy days like these."

He was 100 per-cent correct. Galway do not get to defeat Kerry that often in championship football and, when we do so by playing sublime attacking football, we need to appreciate the moment.

Midfielders top class

The excellence of Caherlistrane's Cein D’arcy and Moycullen's Peter Cooke, who were powerhouses at midfield, laid the platform for Galway's dominance.

Galway seized the initiative from the first throw-in and Dessie Connelly had the ball in the Kerry net after only 25 seconds following super built up play and a lovely pass from his clubmate Sean Kelly.

Jack O'Connor's team looked shell shocked in those opening minutes as Galway took them apart in the first 10 minutes and scored 1-7 from nine attempts, with team captain Michael Daly conducting affairs from centre-forward.

Kerry were really rattled, and they were forced to relocate impressive wing-forward Matthew Flaherty to a sweeper role, which was crucial in stopping what was starting to look like a rout.

The Galway defence impressed in that first period too with Cillian McDaid, Dylan McHugh and Sean Andy O'Ceallaigh catching the eye.

Galway led by eight points, 1-9 to 0-4 at half-time, and it could have been 12 or 13 points as both Robert Finnerty and Eoin Finnerty had goal scored chances that were not taken and some other players were a bit wayward in their shooting.

Galway weathered a bit of a Kerry storm, but when Kerry midfielder Barry O’Sullivan - one of five Dingle players starting for the Kingdom - was sent off for a second bookable offence, the result was beyond doubt.

Galway will now face Dublin on Saturday week - April 29 - in the Eirgrid All-Ireland final in a neutral venue such as O'Connor Park, in Tullamore. The Dubs, under the guidance of Dessie Farrell, beat Donegal by 1-13 to 0-9 in Breffni Park last weekend.

They have some impressive players such as Colm Basquel, an All-Ireland senior medallist last year and who played with the senior side in Allianz League this year, who lines out at full-forward. Con O'Callaghan, who was a star player in Cuala's All-Ireland Club hurling win, and Aaron Byrne, who hit 0-4 against Donegal and in the Leinster final.

Sean McMahon, Glenn O'Reilly and Brian Howard, who was named Man of the Match against Donegal, are other key players who the Galway team management team will have their players well primed to nullify.

Interestingly, their corner forward Darren Gavin is son of Galway man Fergal Gavin, an All-Ireland winner with the Galway seniors in 1998.

Galway: R O’Beolain, R Greene, Sean Andy O’Ceallaigh, L Kelly, C McDaid, D McHugh, K Molloy, P Cooke, C D’arcy; Seán Kelly, M Daly (cpt ), P Mannion, R Finnerty, E Finnerty, D Conneely. Subs: Colin Brady for P Mannion (42 ), Michael Boyle for R Finnerty (54 ), Colm O’Braonain for C D’arcy (57 ), Eric Lee for C McDaid (60 ).


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